The question asked by parents worldwide when looking to make Christmas special for their little ones, what are the best toys released for this Christmas holiday season?
The year is 2017, we are in the age of advanced micro-chips, self-driving cars and passenger space flight. Surely then by now the toys our children are playing with are so ridiculously high tech that they are unrecognisable from the toys that we played with when we were children?
Fortunately no, toys today are not very far removed from toys back in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Children still enjoy playing with dolls, Lego and transformers action figures. While there is a spattering of tech thrown at the toys of today’s world the actual base products are just variations on the same theme that has been enjoyed by generations of children for over 40 years. Perhaps the toys that have seen the most meteoric rise are in fact the well-known classics that have just gone from strength to strength. As mums and dads remember playing with these toys themselves they pass on these sentiments in product form to their offspring as each year passes with a retro influenced fondness.
1. The Lego Ninjago Green Ninja Mech Dragon
Love them or hate them Lego movies have become a big feature of 2017 cinema history. At times they do just seem to be screaming product endorsements but hey, kids seem to love them so – so what. If like me you have been dragged around Legoland Windsor one too many times your kids will no doubt have spotted this shining green Ninjago Dragon toy strategically placed to be seen as soon as you exit the Lego Ninjago ride.
If you want a more detailed break-down (excuse the pun) of the Mech Dragon it may be worth paying a visit here where the science of Lego is put to the test. In a much simpler derivative of this analysis though the toy was fun to put together and play with and for fans of the film it will be welcomed. Perhaps for slightly older children (youngsters tend to just smash every Lego set into an unrecognisable pile of bricks) it is a great addition to the Lego Ninjago family.
Buy the Lego Ninjago Green Ninja Mech Dragon from Amazon
2. The Luvabella doll
So you’ve probably heard about it and I’m pretty sure that you’ve also heard about the rather insane price (for a doll) so what an earth is all the hype about? The price is largely thanks the technology involved in making Luvabella come to life. Just some of the things she does are learn new words and phrases (up to 100 so could probably outsmart most of the current cabinet ministers) and she has a very affectionate personality which is realised in the way that she moves when you are around. Luvabella also reacts to her accessories, if you have ever played the Tom cat game on the iPhone I guess you could think of her as a real life version of that. Watching a child play with Luvabella is quite impressive and they do seem to get a lot out of the interaction.
Overall a pricey toy but this is a cut above a bog standard, run-of-the-mill doll and has more in common with Data from Star Trek than it does Barbie. Word on the street (mainly Mumsnet) however is that these dolls have become like gold dust and you have a better chance of winning the lottery than you do of finding one of these available for purchase. See Luvabella in action here!
Buy the Luvabella doll from Amazon
3. The Star Wars Bladebuilders Path of the Force Lightsaber
Anyone with boys will undoubtedly already own a number of toy swords/Lightsabers. The beauty of this toy is that it is highly customisable so the little one can make the decision on whether to turn to good or dark side in an instant. We liked the ability to change Lightsabre blade colours and the interchangeable accessories. I would warrant a guess that my two would either break the plastic or the light/sound functionality within minutes but if your child is a bit more conservative with their blows it may last a bit longer.
See what the sabre can do here:
Buy the Star Wars Bladebuilders Path of the Force Lightsaber from Amazon
4. Dance and Move BeatBo
Its not all about toys for big kids! This funky little robot shakes his hips and nods his head to the music. All designed to enhance baby’s motor skills BeatBo has music, songs, phrases, lights and many different bright colors to stimulate the tiny one’s senses. BeatBo also has a record function which he can mix into a song. I would just like to take this opportunity to say that when tested BeatBo no rude words were used and that when baby is asleep this should not be played with after any alcohol is consumed (!). Joking aside its a pretty good baby toy and relatively inexpensive so its easy to see why it sells so well.
Buy Dance and Move BeatBo from Amazon
A bit of a surprise hit this one that no one saw coming. I mean the premise of the toys is very basic, its essentially a small toy that clips on to your finger, makes noises and moves a bit. However it has taken the world by storm! Just try and get hold of an official WowWee fingerlings toy anywhere and you will just be staring at the sign where they used to be and an empty shelf. Ask a toy retailer about a WowWee Fingerling? they will laugh you out of the building for your absurd and ridiculous attempt at buying something that for all many of us know doesn’t even exist – they have become that rare.
See the Fingerlings in action!
So a bit more about the toy itself, as discussed the Fingerling grabs hold of your finger and responds to sound and motion. Fingerlings also have blinking eyes, turn their heads, make silly noises and blow kisses at you. To be fair they are very cute, but why they have become hyped out of existence is beyond me. Kids absolutely LOVE them. Some of the big plus points with this toy are that it is extremely durable so will most probably last a while, it is small (great for car journeys) and the batteries last forever.
Buy a WowWee Fingerling from Amazon (if you should be so lucky!)
6. The FurReal Roarin’ Tyler
As toys begin to get more and more advanced what was once state of the art technology worth tens of thousands of pounds has now become something that costs the equivalent of a night out on the town. Tyler, simply put is awesome. This little guy has to be seen to be believed, for fans of the original Gremlins movie (stay with me here) having Tyler on my lap while watching TV almost felt like I have my own real life Gizmo – he is soooo cute!
Whilst Tyler is expensive this toy is something special and should only really be given to a child that really looks after their toys or is gentle of nature. What you have here is basically a cute, lovable teddy bear that moves and makes sweet sounds all to love you right back.
Here is little Tyler in action, I think you’ll agree that the cuteness is off the scale!
Buy FurReal Roarin’ Tyler from Amazon
7. The Disney Cars 3 Movie Moves Lightening McQueen
Considering that this toy comes in a lot cheaper than most of the other popular toys on offer this year it is actually very impressive. Movie Moves Lightening McQueen reacts to motion and can move in all directions. Most impressive was the way that his eyes moved in the same way that they do in the movies giving this toy a very realistic edge.
The car has around 65 sounds and phrases from the movie that for the most part sound realistic if a little tinny. Build quality was good but I would be a little concerned about longevity depending on how long you expect it to last. If your kid is a Disney Cars nut its an easy choice, if not I would doubt that it would keep them entertained for that long. Overall a great toy but it is pretty much exactly as you would expect.
Buy Disney Cars 3 Movie Moves Lightening McQueen from Amazon
8. Hatchimals Glittering Garden
Last years knock it out of the park, runaway Christmas toy success was overwhelmingly the Hatchimals toy series. If you are new to Hatchimals it is essentially a toy animal that you buy inside an egg. Once the animal has hatched it is born and can’t be put back inside the egg. You are then supposed to care for the creature Tamagotchi style.
To be fair this is actually a pretty good gimmick and it has the little ones hooked and inspired as to what is to become of the newly hatched baby creature. The main appeal is by far the hatching itself and play value does start to wear off after this as happened but the toy continues to be fun to play with.
Buy Hatchimals Glittering Garden from Amazon
9. The Paw Patrol Sea Patroller
If you have children under 5 there is no doubt that you will know what Paw Patrol is. The fearless band of canine pups valiantly go about enacting selfless deeds and kids can’t get enough of it. Last Christmas we bought my 2 year old the Air Patroller and I have to say I was very impressed. Mainly with the build quality which seems to be something that is shockingly suspect with many of today’s toys. The Air Patroller in our house is still going strong despite many moving parts and bits that probably deserved to get broken.
The Sea Patroller is no exception to this and is a tough, sturdy, chunky looking toy. This toy also has drop down wheels, flashing lights, sound effects and a detachable anchor which little fingers will love to explore. Overall a little pricey but you get what you pay for and this toy will last.
Buy The Paw Patrol Sea Patroller from Amazon
10. The Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar
Lego has just seen a non-stop rise in popularity in recent years, partly thanks to its big budget movie counter-parts and partly to its ability to make fun affordable toys. The Lego advent calendar is a fantastic way to make the build up to Christmas fun while at the same time spoiling your Lego mad child to a Lego Star Wars figure on each day of December.
Although some parents may balk at the price of this ‘advent’ calendar you have to remember that this is effectively a Christmas themed Lego set so is actually not bad value. The quality of the figures is very good (not Christmas cracker style) and the excitement it provides is priceless. Overall if you are looking to make Christmas that extra bit special and have a Lego Star Wars fan in the house, you can’t go wrong with this.
Buy the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar from Amazon
11. The Spider-Man Homecoming Tech Suit action figure
The ever popular Spider-Man had yet another motion picture outing this summer and of course along with it comes Spidey’s trusted merchandise collection. Tech Suit Spider-Man is what I like to call a deluxe action figure in that it is not just an empty molded piece of plastic. No Tech Suit Spider-Man really does live up to his name and has a variety of built in features. Spidey has over 40 different words and phrases from the movie which are all activated by varying the motion of his arms. The arms are fully articulated, not just moving up and down which gives him a more realistic and heroic stance and allows him to be posed in any position.
At nearly 15 inches in height this toy is big! For kids that like large, chunky toys it is ideal and may appeal more to slightly younger children. Another cool feature that Spidey has are his light up eyes, when played in low-light this gave a very cool effect. He can also shoot his web projectiles like he does in the movie.
Buy the Spider-Man Homecoming Tech Suit from Amazon
12. The Playmobil 6000 Royal Lion Knight’s Castle
The ever-popular Playmobil Knights series has a huge range of products available ranging from the Playmobil 6002 Wolf Knights Castle all the way up to the Playmobil 3268 Knights Empire Castle. Sitting firmly at the upper end of the Playmobil scale and as one of the largest toys they sell, this castle is huge and I mean epic huge! The dimensions listed are 66cm x 56cm x 49cm which may not sound like a great deal until you have it sitting in front of you.
Take a look at the TV advert for the Knights Empire Castle to get an idea of the scale of these things.
Some of the really great features of the Royal Lion Knight Castle are the functioning portcullis and draw bridge and the secret trap door into the throne room. There are some toys that really spark your (ahem I mean your childs) imagination and inspire some great creative and inspired play. This is definitely one of them as it is like your own version of the film set from Dragonheart. Typical Playmobil quality applies here so you know what to expect and the figures included are great fun.
If you are feeling particularly flush and have two little terrors to keep entertained you could even spring for an additional castle from the range as I have so that you can have battles from opposing armies. Lining all the troops up and storming each others castle is immensely fun.
Buy the Playmobil 6000 Royal Lion Knight’s Castle from Amazon
13. The Amazon Fire Kids Edition
Tablets for kids is big business these days for all the major electrical retailers. When looking for my little ones the main contenders were Apple’s iPad, the Fire Kids Edition and The Leapfrog Epic. After much deliberation it was decided that the iPad was far too expensive (and not overly kid friendly) and the Leapfrog was too basic and would be outgrown quickly. This left us with the Fire Kids Edition.
The Fire Kids feels very sturdy in the hand and includes parent friendly features like a child-lock for certain content. This gives parents piece of mind while children play and watch downloaded content. Some of the other key features are its 8 hour battery life and expandable memory slot, meaning you can extend the storage to 256GB if needed. We set up access to certain items from own own Kindle app libraries that we wanted to share with the children. There are literally tons of apps to choose from – around 5000 and all the big names in children’s entertainment are present.
One of the things I particularly liked about our Fire Kids purchases was that it came with a kid-proof case and a 2 year guarantee that if the kids break them Amazon will replace them for free, no questions asked! I thought this a bold claim, especially as they had not met my children but the devices are bomb proof so you would have to put in a special effort to break them.
Overall its been a fantastic high-tech toy (if you can really call it that) any child will get hours of fun from.
Buy the Fire Kids Edition from Amazon
14. The Barbie Dream House Playset
If you have the space (this thing is huge) and you are really determined to spoil your little princess this Christmas you will be loved forever for splashing out on the Barbie FFY84 (yes not a very catchy product name) Dream House Playset. If your little one is into Barbie’s this is practically a dream come true. The Dream House has three floors, seven bedrooms and a working elevator! There are over 70 accessories including the ‘smart’ accessories. Smart accessories are basically accessories that have some kind of electronic function. for instance lights or the aquarium where the fish swim and you can hear the bubbles.
There are some pretty neat features such as the fact that Barbies 80 inch flat screen TV is actually your smartphone that just fits into a holder.
It perhaps would have been nice to get at least one Barbie doll with the Dream House but I guess if you are looking at this product you already have a house full of them
Take a look at some of the features in action below.
Buy the Barbie Dream House Playset from Amazon
15. The Imaginext FGF37 ‘DC Super Friends BatBot Xtreme’
Because of the size of this toy I’m not really sure you could call an action figure in the traditional sense. Towering at over 2ft tall the BatBot Xtreme is colossal and nearly as big as your average 3 year old. If you have young children who are in to Batman the chances are that they already have some of the Imaginext Batman range. BatBot Xtreme has extendable wings, punching fists, projectile launchers and even a built-in voice changer.
One of the really features about the Batman Imaginext toys is that the figures are designed to operate mechanisms on certain vehicles and buildings. On the BatBot Xtreme your Batman figure can be used by placing it on the right shoulder to activate some of the features. There is also a Batcycle which is released by using one of the power pads and a hidden elevator that can take Batman up to the cockpit. This toy is a lot of fun and that goes for children of all ages, I would be surprised if my kids aren’t still playing with this long after they leave primary school.
The BatBot was only released in September 2017 so many people don’t really know it exists yet. I have a feeling though that when word gets out this is going to be one of the hardest toys to get hold of in the run up to Christmas. If your little ones are into Batman and haven’t yet experienced Imaginext I would highly recommend this as a way of getting into it.
Buy the Imaginext FGF37 ‘DC Super Friends BatBot Xtreme from Amazon
16. The VTech KidiZoom Duo Camera
The VTech KidiZoom Duo is a fantastic way to get your little one into photography and to do something educational/creative. My five year old absolutely loves this device and literally will not stop snapping! If anything its been more entertaining for us as parents analysing the memory card when full to see all the things he’s been taking pictures of. In actual fact when using this on holiday some of our best pictures were random snaps taken by junior on his ‘toy’ camera as they were completely natural and fun.
As you would imagine the camera itself is as durable as they come and has some great extra-grippy rubber grips for little hands to keep hold of. There are some fun features on the camera like special photo effects, a voice changer and some games. The front camera is a respectable 2.0MP and the back (selfie) camera is 0.3MP.
I would highly recommend this as ‘something different’ to open on Christmas day that will provide countless hours of fun and discover when used out and about throughout the year. The camera is also relatively inexpensive now so a great stocking filler.
Buy the VTech KidiZoom Duo from Amazon
17. The Ferrari LaFerrari Remote Control Car
This is another inexpensive but great fun toy that will make another great stocking filler. The LaFerrari remote control car is an amazing looking toy. If your children are into sports cars the LaFerrari does not disappoint as it is a highly detailed 1:24 replica of an F150 (officially licenced by Ferrari).
The car itself has a generous 10 meter control range and can burst up to a maximum speed of 12mph! It is very, very fast! I would say to the extent that small children or pets should be kept well clear of it as if it picks up speed it can give you a nasty knock. As the remote controlled car is relatively inexpensive I would highly recommend getting two as I did so that you can race your child. We have setup an entire race course circuit from the lounge the kitchen and do our own Le-mans style races. To get the car going make sure that you also have x5 AA batteries in stock as these do not come with it.
These are huge amounts of fun for not a great deal of money. The cars also seem to be very durable, having been dropped, crash, stood on and are still going strong.
Buy the Ferrari LaFerrari Remote Control Car from Amazon
18. The Xbox One X 1TB Console
I know that some parents try to steer their children away from games consoles wherever they can and while I tend to agree that when not used in moderation they can be disruptive, I don’t see any harm in carefully measured/supervised play time now and again.
The Xbox One X is touted as the most powerful games machine on the planet, boasting 40% more gaming power than any other games console. There are lots of uninteresting technical details about teraflops, processing power and memory but I guess the key point to take away is that it is a very powerful supercomputer that they have adapted to play games on! Something that is worth mentioning on the technical side however is that you will get more out of this games console if you have a 4k TV. You do not need a 4k TV (any TV with an HDMI slot will work) but you will get a clearer/better picture if you do have one.
Part of the fun of playing on a games console for children is usually playing it with one of their friends. For that reason I would recommend that you buy an extra wireless controller as you only get one with the console.
Another benefit to buying the Xbox One X is that you get a builtin Bluray player with the machine. This of course means that the little ones can happily enjoy their copies of The Emoji Movie or Lego Batman from the Xbox.
Take a look at what the Xbox One X can do below.
You will of course also need to buy games that are suitable for children. For this I would highly recommend any of the Lego games. They are fun and kid friendly with lots of comedy and puzzles to keep them entertained.
Buy the Xbox One X 1TB Console from Amazon
19. The Anki Overdrive Fast & Furious Edition
This toy is usually setup in Hamleys in a pride of place spot in the boys toys department with a huge amount of space and complex track layout. In this setting the toy comes into its own as the premise is essentially a futuristic Mad Max style racing game whereby the aim is also to blast your opponent from the track all controlled using your iPhone/iPad. In smaller more cramped setups this set is not as much fun, especially if it has to be put away after you play it every single time.
If however you are more akin to The Wolf of Wallstreet and have your child housed in a 30ft x 30ft bedroom this is the perfect gift and will have them the envy of all the kids in the neighborhood. You will also need a Wall Street style job in order to be able to afford this toy as the cars alone can set you back the equivalent of a full tank of real car diesel. Our verdict was, great fun if you have both the space and the budget to keep adding to the sets.
Take a look at the set in action here – note what we said about play space needed!
Buy Anki Overdrive Fast & Furious Edition from Amazon
20. The PJ Masks Deluxe Figure Set
This is one for little tykes really probably in the 2-4 age range as by the time they hit 5 they are firmly into Batman, Superman and The Avengers territory. The PJ masks are essentially a sweet innocent way to get children into superheroes without all the bloodshed and violence! Based on the Disney Junior TV show this toy pack includes all of the heroes and villains from the little ones favourite TV show.
Mummys and daddys that have been subjected to (sorry I mean watched enthusiastically) the show with their children will recognise Cat boy, Owlette and Gekko. Also included are a bunch of pets from the show and some of the accessories seen. The figures are very good quality and have posable joints. There are also 16 of them to choose from so there is plenty of longevity in the play value. If you know a child that loves PJ Masks then you can do no wrong with this set.
Buy the PJ Masks Deluxe Figure Set from Amazon